Rumors of a compact system camera launch from Fujifilm first appeared back in early July, after an interview with the head of the company's camera division published by press agency Reuters. Takeshi Higuchi told Reuters' journalists that Fujifilm was considering reentering the interchangeable lens camera market, and went on to state his belief that the company would have no issue in developing a mirrorless camera body and lens lineup in-house.
Today, the company has put forth a specific timeframe for its first mirrorless camera debut: Spring 2012. Company reps apparently told the Japanese press that they could expect resolution and noise characteristics to rival or surpass those of 35mm full-frame sensors. Although the blogosphere is now abuzz with rumors of a mirrorless camera with a sensor size greater than that of a 35mm film frame, we would suggest this is perhaps a misunderstanding. Instead, it's rather more likely that Fujifilm were simply suggesting their belief that their chosen sensor design and image processing techniques could yield image quality similar to that of current full-frame products.
Originally planned for introduction at the Consumer Electronics Show (which has now absorbed the PMA show, and takes place at the start of January), the mirrorless camera products will instead be launched at a Japanese event. We'd read that as meaning we can expect an announcement around Japan's premier imaging show, CP+, which takes place in mid-February.
As for the Fujifilm X-S1 mockup, only brief highlights are available at this time. The camera has SLR-like body styling, with a fixed 6.1-158.6mm, f/2.8-5.6 Super EBC Fujinon-branded 26x optical zoom lens. The lens bears 62mm filter threads, while the camera body includes both an articulated LCD panel and a fixed electronic viewfinder said to offer high resolution, as well as a popup flash strobe. The design is apparently based around a 2/3-inch EXR CMOS image sensor of unspecified resolution, although it would seem to make sense that this would be the same twelve megapixel chip used in the Fuji X10. No information on pricing or availability were given to the Japanese press.
In a final note, Fuji has now revealed pricing and availability for the X10 fixed-lens camera, for the Japanese market at least. In Japan, the Fujifilm X10 will ship from October 22nd, priced at around ¥70,000 (roughly equivalent to US$900, ignoring exchange rate fluctuations, taxes, and duties). More details on this camera can be found in our Fuji X10 preview, and images of the Fuji X-S1 mockup can be seen on the Japanese-language Impress DC Watch blog.